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Letter: Buntzen Lake time limits 'wildly misleading' and will cause traffic problems

Hiker says new BC Hydro plan will force people to park in front of residents' homes.
New signage was installed in June, part of a safety audit that comes a year after two people drowne
New signage was installed in June, part of a safety audit that comes a year after two people drowned at Buntzen Lake

The Editor:

Re: BC Hydro wants to stop crazy Buntzen Lake traffic problems (May 4, 2022)

There’s legitimate outrage in the Tri-Cities’ hiking community about BC Hydro’s announcement it’s imposing time limits at parking lots at Buntzen Lake recreation area.

No one should dispute that Anmore residents deserve relief from the traffic jam-ups they endured during the beach season in 2021. But Hydro’s traffic management plan is lazy and heavy-handed. And its announced plan to impose morning-only or afternoon-only access to parking is wildly misleading because it fails to acknowledge the negative impact upon hikers.

Month by month, most of the visitors to Buntzen are hikers. Certainly there’s a big bump in beach visitors in summer. But even in July and August people from the Tri-Cities and all over Metro Vancouver head to Buntzen to enjoy some of the best hiking in the Lower Mainland. By Hydro’s own admission, many of the popular trails accessible from Buntzen take the better part of a day to complete — and that’s if you’re fast, ultra-fit and experienced. Trails such as Dilly Dally, an historic route established by the indefatigable Halvor Lunden five decades ago, is a full day’s hike — and it’s really only practical for most people in summer once snow has receded from the mountain. Now, Dilly Dally and many other trails will be unavailable due to time-limited parking at Buntzen.

This week, as news of the parking changes were announced, even some Anmore residents expressed concern over the availability of trails they casually enjoy for a few hours’ hike or a dog walk. Port Moody and Coquitlam residents at the top of Eagle Ridge should brace for a significant upsurge in traffic in front of their homes as hikers pushed out of Buntzen seek alternative access to east Buntzen trails.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Hydro’s news release is the absence of any indication that the public was consulted before alleged ‘plan’ was announced. Perhaps if the public had been involved from the outset, Hydro could avoided well-deserved adverse publicity.

Here’s a few suggestions Hydro ought to consider, if it truly cares about all of the people who use the park. Open the Buntzen gates at 7 a.m., rather than 8 a.m. from mid-June thru Labour Day. That way, early birds can get into the recreation area instead of blocking the driveways of Anmore residents who are trying to get to work in the morning. Also, consider expanding the equestrian parking lot, which is segregated from the main parking area, and reserve it exclusively for use by equestrians and day hikers.

Finally, perhaps Port Moody-Coquitlam MLA Rick Glumac can sit down with Premier John Horgan, who is uniquely familiar with the BC Hydro file, and work out a way guide BC Hydro’s obdurate bureaucracy around to doing the right thing instead of the expedient one at Buntzen.

- Scott Simpson, Port Moody